Derek Kaknes was sold on Metis because of their association with thoughtbot. A recent graduate, Derek tells us about what drove him to learn to code, the teaching styles that worked best, and how Metis taught him to write code he's proud of.
What were you up to before deciding to go to Metis?
Before Metis I was working with a small team at a company that I helped co-found. At the company, we had gone through several false starts trying to hire the right software engineer, so I viewed Metis as an opportunity to gain the skills necessary to fill that gap.
Did you apply to other bootcamps? Why did you ultimately decide on Metis?
I looked at several other bootcamps, including Launch Academy, Flatiron School and DevBootcamp, but ultimately decided on Metis because of their connection with thoughbot. The opportunity to learn thoughtbot best practices from thoughtbot developers themselves was a huge selling point.
Which instructors/mentors were especially helpful to you? Did you feel like the teaching methods worked with your learning style?
Both of our primary instructors, “Goose” (Matt) and “Steiner” (Josh), were fantastic; but we also had the benefit of other thoughtbot employees dropping in to help whenever they were around. The ability to ask questions and get answers from developers who are in the industry using best practices was enormously valuable.
Can you talk about a time when you got stuck in the class and how you pushed through?
We were taught repeatedly that we should never be “stuck” on a problem in isolation for more than 30 minutes. Whenever I was stuck for more than a few minutes, I would first ask a classmate for help and, if we couldn’t resolve the issue, elevate it to one of the instructors. As a result, I don’t have a great example of being “stuck” in class, but if I had to choose a frustrating experience it would be debugging AJAX requests made to an external API.
Tell us about your final project- what technologies did you use, how long did it take, what does it do?
My final project was called “BTC Shop” and is an ecommerce shopping application designed specifically for bitcoin payment. The main technologies I used were the Coinbase payment API, which is a pre-built “plug-and-play” option allowing applications to receive btc payments, and the Blockchain API, which is a free third-party API that allows applications to send, receive and track btc payments. Using the Blockchain API, I was able to recreate the functionality of the Coinbase product in my own implementation, including producing a QR Code for user’s to scan and send payments. The whole development cycle took three weeks, including roughly one week for initial research and design.
Would you have been able to learn to code and get a job without Metis?
No way. I had tried previously to teach myself, but consistently got caught on some early hurdles and never made much progress. Metis provides an awesome platform to accelerate your initial learning curve and, through the association with thoughtbot, enforces current industry best-practices to every line of code that you write. Could I have learned to write code that worked without Metis? Maybe, but not code that I would be proudly confident to show a potential employer.